Why Does My Tooth Hurt When I Bite Down? Possible Causes

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website.
Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Tooth pain can be very frustrating and uncomfortable. Whether you’re experiencing it all the time, or maybe just when you bite down on something, it’s important to get to the root cause as soon as possible. 

A tooth may hurt when you bite down due to a misaligned crown, cavity, cracked tooth, or gum disease. Occasionally, your teeth can also hurt due to sinus pressure. Either way, it’s important to get in touch with your dentist right away; tooth pain rarely gets better on its own.

Are you wondering which specific condition is causing your teeth to hurt? Let’s look at the most common causes of tooth pain and how to decide if it’s time to visit the dentist.

Reasons Why Your Tooth May Hurt When Biting Down

indoor shot of sad unhealthy woman wearing striped t shirt posing isolated over pink background

There are many possible reasons why your tooth hurts when you’re biting down. Take a look at the following common causes of tooth pain and see if any may apply to your situation. 

Crown Sits Too High

When crowns are installed in your mouth, they’re sanded down to fit your bite. Occasionally, the dentist may not be able to judge the perfect fit, especially when your mouth is numb. 

If you have pain when you bite down and you recently had a crown installed, then it may be time to make another appointment with your dentist. They’ll be able to fix the problem for you quickly. 

Even if you haven’t had a crown, but you’ve had a filling recently, the filling could be misaligned as well. 

Large Cavity

A large cavity in your tooth can easily become irritated when you bite down. Food can also get trapped in a large cavity, leading to pain when you bite down. 

Your pain is more likely to be caused by a large cavity if you’re experience issues beyond just when you bite down. For example, if you have pain when you drink soda or warm beverages, then the pain is more likely caused by a cavity than something else on this list. 

Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth is a difficult condition to diagnose because its only symptom is pain when you chew. So if you are only having pain when you bite down but not at any other time, then it could be because your tooth is cracked. 

Gum Disease

Gum disease can cause your gums to recede from your teeth, leaving the sensitive parts of your teeth exposed as you chew. Gum disease typically presents itself with other symptoms besides pain, like bleeding gums and swelling.

Gum recession, which is an early symptom of gum disease, may also cause pain when you chew, but it’ll be to a lesser extent than when you have gum disease. It’s important to see a dentist right away if you have receding gums; your pain will only get worse if it’s not addressed. 

Dental Abscess

Sometimes a tooth can get an infection in the root called a dental abscess. These infections can cause swelling in the gums and lead to pain when you bite down. 

Sinus Pressure

It’s possible to experience pain when you bite down as a result of pressure in your nasal cavities. This typically happens when you’re sick or have recently been sick. 

If your tooth pain is caused by sinus pressure, it’ll typically be just your upper molars that experience pain. If you have pain elsewhere in your mouth when you bite down, sinus pressure likely isn’t the culprit. 

Misaligned Bite

If your tooth pain has been occurring for a long time, it’s possible that your bite is misaligned. In this case, you’ll likely need braces or other orthodontic work to fix your pain. 

Note that misaligned bite pain won’t come on as suddenly as cavity pain will. If you have tooth pain of any type, it’s always better to assume it’s a cavity than to brush it off as a misaligned bite. 

When Should You See a Dentist?

Except for in the case of sinus pressure, pain when you bite down rarely resolves itself. If you’ve recently been sick, then wait a few days before you call a dentist. In other cases, it’s best to call a dentist right away. 

Pain from cavities or gum disease will only get worse when left untreated. And if your pain is caused by a misaligned filling or crown, then seeing a dentist is the only way to alleviate this pain. 

In the meantime, while you are waiting for your appointment, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen (on Amazon) to help with your pain. You may also choose to avoid especially hard or chewy foods that cause you to bite down while eating. 

Final Thoughts on Why Does My Tooth Hurt When I Bite Down

Asian women with intense toothache pain after biting cookie

Overall, there are many different reasons your tooth could be hurting when you bite down. Whether you are suffering from a cavity, misaligned crown, or gum disease, it’s important to see a dentist right away to resolve it. Dentists are the only ones that can properly diagnose and treat your tooth pain before it gets worse. 

Leave a Comment